May 18 2005

SHELBY ANNOUNCES SIGN-UP DEADLINE FOR TREE ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Senator Richard C. Shelby (R-AL) today announced the deadline of the sign-up period for the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) will be May 31, 2005. As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Shelby played a critical role in securing funds for tree assistance programs in the emergency supplemental appropriations bill following the 2004 hurricane season.

Sen. Shelby said, “I encourage those who need relief to sign up for TAP before the May 31st deadline. This financial relief is key to alleviating the burden placed on producers as a result of natural disasters including Hurricane Ivan. I believe this assistance will help strengthen our economy and provide much needed assistance to eligible producers for their losses.”

Those who may be eligible to receive assistance under TAP are owners of eligible trees, bushes and vines from which an annual crop is produced for commercial purposes; forest land owners who produce crops of timber for commercial purposes; and pecan producers. Producers who received payments under Section 32 of the Act of August 24, 1935, for 2004 hurricane losses are ineligible to receive benefits under the general TAP and for forest timber. However, producers may receive both Section 32 payments and TAP payments for pecan rehabilitation. In addition, producers are ineligible for both Emergency Conservation Program and TAP assistance for the same losses. Funding for TAP was authorized by the Military Construction and Emergency Hurricane Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2005 (2005 Appropriations Act). TAP payments are expected to begin in June 2005. The funding for TAP is as follows:

TAP for Orchardists

Funds will be provided for losses which occurred during the period beginning Dec. 1, 2003, and ending Dec. 31, 2004, for eligible orchardists to replant trees, bushes and vines that were grown to produce an annual crop.

TAP for Forest Timber Producers

$15 million was authorized for eligible producers who meet all requirements and produce periodic crops of forest timber for commercial use, and who suffered timber losses or damage during the period beginning Dec. 1, 2003, and ending Dec. 31, 2004.

TAP for Pecan Tree Producers

$8.5 million was authorized in TAP assistance for producers who suffered crop damage to pecan trees. The funds will reimburse producers for pruning, rehabilitation and other related costs. Pecan producers must be located in a Presidentially-declared disaster county that suffered hurricane or tropical storm-related tree losses related to the 2004 hurricane season.

For more information, or to apply for TAP assistance, tree owners should contact their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. Additional TAP information is available on FSA's Web site at: www.fsa.usda.gov.

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